The weather for the end of the Hex Valley High Traverse has been terrible: incessant rain, winds, and cold. It snowed on some of the mountains that surrounded us, but spying the snow was difficult as many mountain peaks remained hidden deep in cloud and rain. After approaching storms had turned us around from our walk into the mountains, we booked a local taxi to take us to an alternate route. Riding through the valleys looking up at the tease of mountains… it was completely disheartening. I also found the whiplash of moving faster than our three-miles-per-hour walking pace to be nauseating. I did my best to sleep away my discomfort and disappointment in the back seat.
Walking the Gecko Trail brought us through the middle of a battle between the “folds” of the Cape Fold Mountains and the powerful Nuy River. The river was exceptionally high and fast, fueled by all the rain dumped in the mountains. All “dry” river beds were full, every small river crossing became big, and every big river crossing became huge.
Our first water crossing was only ankle-high, the fifth became knee-high, and by the hundredth one, we were carrying packs above our shoulders or tossing them to the other side and then swimming across. The water wrecked our pace, slowing us down to a crawl. It also trashed the mountain, eroding the tough walls into the colorful rocks that littered.
Sharp bends in the river were the only evidence of a force stronger than the water — but those too will probably crumble with time. Battered cliff faces rose from the river and our path took us higher and higher, into more water, into the clouds.
Water won this day. Boots transformed into buckets and every dry part of our bodies was hunted down and soaked by the rain. Our souls crumbled as our toes turned white and blistered. Numbness consumed me, my focus turned into the trail and the swishing sounds of soaked clothes and jackets. At least at the end of the trail, at Simonskloof, we found refuge and a warm fire greeting us.
Featured Image Photo by Charles Powne.